Indigenous Data Sovereignty

Indigenous data sovereignty refers to the right of Indigenous Peoples to exercise ownership, control, and access over their data. It acknowledges historical injustices where non-Indigenous entities have collected and appropriated Indigenous data without consent, in breach of Indigenous laws for their benefit and to the detriment of Indigenous Peoples. The Remembering Project is committed to upholding Indigenous data sovereignty principles in all its research initiatives.

As such, the Remembering Project has adopted the Indigenous data sovereignty framework proposed by the First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNIGC) [1] and commits to honouring its four principles: Ownership, Control, Access, and Possession (OCAP). These principles serve as a foundation for respecting Indigenous rights and ensuring ethical research practices.


First Nations own their data collectively, empowering them to define their identity and prevent external definitions. The Remembering Project acknowledges and respects this collective ownership and commits to supporting First Nations in asserting control over their data.

  • The survivor committee for each residential school will have full authority over the data collected by the Remembering Project.
  • The data collected by the Remembering Project will only be shared with the express written consent of the survivor committees for each residential school.


First Nations have the right to control the collection, use, and sharing of their data. This includes decision-making authority over research processes, information management, and data outputs. The Remembering Project recognizes the importance of involving First Nations in all aspects of research to ensure their voices are heard and respected.

  • The methods by which the Remembering Project collects, uses and shares data about residential school students were developed in consultation with the archivists overseen by the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association.
  • For any expansion of the Remembering Project’s work to other schools, the methods to collect, use and share data will be subjected to the control of the respective survivor committee for each school.


First Nations must have access to their own data, regardless of where it is held. Access contributes to nation-building and cultural revitalization. The Remembering Project commits to facilitating access to data for First Nations and respecting their decisions regarding who may access their data and under what conditions.

  • The respective survivor committee and its delegates may access the data collected by the Remembering Project at any time. Requests should be directed to Ben Rowswell at [email protected] and he will respond within 72 hours.
  • The Remembering Project will maintain a list of the volunteers provided access to the list of names of residential school students and will make this available to survivor committees and their delegates.


First Nations have the right to physically hold and control their data, ensuring it is managed in a manner consistent with their cultural values and traditions. They have the right to determine who has physical possession of their data and information and ensure that archives and databases manage their data securely and confidentially. The Remembering Project acknowledges the importance of custody and protection of data and will work with First Nations to establish mechanisms for secure data management.

  • The spreadsheets and indices containing all information collected by the Remembering Project will be shared with the survivor committee of the respective residential school and/or its delegates.

Additionally, the Remembering Project recognizes the importance of collaboration with First Nations in all stages of research. We will actively engage with First Nations Research Advisory Committees and other relevant stakeholders to develop research agreements, data sharing agreements, and research protocols that respect Indigenous rights and priorities.

Furthermore, the Remembering Project acknowledges the potential of open data, open government, and open science principles in the context of Indigenous data sovereignty. We firmly commit to respecting First Nations' decision-making authority regarding the openness of their data and seek their explicit consent before sharing data with external parties

By upholding Indigenous data sovereignty principles, the Remembering Project reaffirms its commitment to ethical research practices and respect for Indigenous rights. We will continue to work collaboratively with First Nations to ensure that our research aligns with their values, priorities, and aspirations.

[1] From “National Gathering on Unmarked Burials: Affirming Data Sovereignty and Community Control over Knowledge and Information” Office of the Special Interlocutor, January .2023

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